Google Shopping is Changing in October. Are you Prepared?
Changes in October 2012?
If you have your finger on the pulse of PPC and Google AdWords, you know that a large change in the way Google handles product search and product listing ads is imminent. As of October 2012, featuring your products in Google Shopping will no longer be free, and will be completely controlled from the Google AdWords interface. The display of product listing ads will most likely be altered as well. So what should you do if, until now, you’ve enjoyed your products being featured for free? Here are three tips you can follow to make sure you’re prepared.
1. Decide If You Want To Take The Plunge
The first step is figuring out if you want to start paying to be featured in Google product searches. For many advertisers, the answer will be “yes”. However, consider your line of products. Is it highly dependent on a visual image? Are searchers looking for your products in Google shopping currently? If not, you may consider not pursuing Google Shopping. But, for the vast majority of merchants who sell physical products, images from Google Shopping and product listing ads are highly effective tools that help drive sales. If this rings true for you, then you’ll definitely want to enter the new Google Shopping arena. For those who are on the fence, a swaying argument may be good ol’ competition. Think about it, if fewer product feeds are featured on Google because of merchants opting out of the service, this may be a prime opportunity for you to feature your product line and gain more visibility.
2. Optimize Your Feed
The biggest key to running successful Google Shopping campaigns and product listing ads come October will be one thing: a complete, highly organized product feed. There are several things that you’ll need to do to make sure your feed is up to snuff. First, look at all of the required fields for your product feed, and make sure to fill them out as completely as you can. Next, make sure your products are segmented in an intelligent way. Filling in “brand” and “product type” will allow you to make segmented campaigns in which you can have more control over budgets and bids. Lastly, keep your feed updated to make sure you aren’t hawking products that you no longer have in stock.
3. Start Running PLAs before August 15th, 2012
Now, Google understands that there are more than a few merchants who will be less than happy with paying for what was once free. With that in mind, they’ve thrown us a bit of a bone: if you set up product listing ads in AdWords by August 15th, 2012, you’ll get a 10% credit each month on your total PLA spend. Additionally, merchants who already have an active feed on Google Product search as of May 30th, 2012 will receive a $100 credit if they fill out this form. If you don’t have an active product feed on Google Products, at least make sure you set up some product listing ads to get the 10% discount for the rest of 2012.
Everyone is still in the dark about the finer points of Google Shopping. For some merchants it will be their first foray into the Google AdWords interface, and optimizing a product feed in addition to setting up the appropriate campaigns in AdWords may seem daunting. Just remember: all of the up-front work should pay some nice dividends in the near future, and the beauty of Google AdWords is that you can optimize as you go. Don’t worry if you don’t get it completely right the first time. Google Shopping should give merchants more control over what products they advertise and how much they spend, and hopefully with Google’s pricing structure that will mean a good return on investment for those who take the time to optimize their feeds and set up organized campaigns.